Will An American Ever Seriously Compete In Formula 1 Again
Why doesn't America send more drivers to Formula 1? I have absolutely no doubt this country produces drivers with more than enough talent to compete in F1. Yet we haven't had a competitive driver in a competitive car since... Eddie Cheever at Renault in 1983? Michael Andretti at McLaren? Both of those led to the driver getting the axe the very next season.
Go back and try to think of the greatest Americans to drive in F1 and it is spectacularly thin pickings. Mario Andretti remains the only American to win a F1 World Drivers Championship and that was 39 years ago. Damn near half a century has passed without an American amounting to much in the pinnacle of motorsport. Why is that? Why don't more Americans compete in F1?
Firstly, Formula 1 is European, that means the drivers need to be in Europe, not only for the season but for the vast majority of the year itself for things like testing, sponsor events etc. There is a reluctance among drivers to move their entire life, families etc in pursuit of an F1 career. Especially when you combine it with number two, America has some damn fine domestic series. American drivers can make very good money racing in NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA and so on. It isn't the top dollar F1 drivers make but it isn't chump change either. A career in F1 looks less appealing when you can drive in a highly competitive series, make good money (money any of us would die for) and stay close to home.
That said there has to be a driver out there with the talent and the ego to make a serious go at Formula 1. Alex Rossi tried it and landed in IndyCar where he finds life very comfortable. There are no Americans that I know of making big noise in any of the classic Formula 1 feeder series. Begs the question is there any Americans out there who are worthy of an F1 seat right now? Conor Daly who chased the F1 dream and like Rossi ended up in IndyCar thinks the brand new Indy Champ is more than deserving of an F1 drive.
"Right now, the pace Josef has been on with his steady development, he should be receiving calls from Formula 1 teams," Daly told RACER. "In no way should he not be paid attention to. The guy won the championship in his first season with Roger Penske. The progression is what's impressive about Josef. Drivers are always learning, and he's only been with Penske one year and look what he's done already. He's going to be very difficult to beat here in the future if he doesn't get taken by a Formula 1 team."
Josef Newgarden is enjoying his Championship and isn't looking forward, nor should he. He just won a championship with one of the premier teams in America. Life is good. No sense mucking that up with Formula 1 talk. However, in a few months, next year if he wants it becomes a serious question. Could he compete in F1? Possibly more important, should he jump the pond to compete in F1?
It all boils down to comfort vs desire. Newgarden is obviously highly competitive in IndyCar. He has immense talent, drives for the best in the business, he could be successful for many years to come. Banking prestige and money all while building an extremely comfortable life for himself and his family.
On the flip side one does not become a champion without having a fierce competitive force driving them. That competitive force gives them the attitude, "I'm the baddest mother out here and I'm gonna prove it to you." That drive, that attitude, that competitive fire pushes these men/women to prove themselves vs best in the world. The best in motorsport reside in Formula 1. Newgarden may want to test himself and make the jump.
What do you think? Should Josef Newgarden try to make the leap to F1? Would IndyCar suffer if their top young talent leaves for F1? Should IndyCar be a stepping stone for drivers perusing an F1 career?